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By Rachel M. Anderson

(Red Wing, Minn.) - There are certain experiences in life that stay with you forever. Many Americans, for example, will never forget what they were doing when they first learned about the September 11, 2001 attacks on America.

“I was at home watching NBC’s Today Show that morning and couldn’t believe it when I saw the video of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center towers,” said John L. Betcher of Red Wing, Minn.

Like many Americans, he stayed glued to the tube for several hours before breaking away from the nonstop coverage and returning to his routine. He went into the office where he practiced law at the time, a mere five miles away from what everyone in Red Wing knew was a likely terrorist target – the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant.

At first, local media camped out in Red Wing, running stories about how authorities were beefing up security at the plant, and at Minnesota’s other likely target, The Mall of America. But after a few weeks, the attention died down and local reporters returned to covering what would be considered ordinary, even normal, news stories again.

However, awareness of post- 9/11 threats to Red Wing, and to America in general, stayed on Betcher’s mind. Ten years later as he was approaching retirement from a 25-year career as a small town attorney, handing mostly estate planning and real estate transactions for clients, he started to write fiction.

Inspired by recent readings of suspense writer Robert B. Parker, known as “The Dean of American Crime Fiction,” Betcher came up with the plot for “The 19th Element,” the first in what would soon be a series of four books in the James Becker Series. James Becker, who goes by the nickname “Beck,” is a former elite U.S. government intelligence operative who has retired to his childhood home of Red Wing. His wife, Beth, is a former CIA code cracker.

In this book, after the slain body of a University of Minnesota professor turns up on the Mississippi River shore, “Beck” immediately suspects terrorism, and it turns out he is right. He helps uncover a plot to attack the nuclear power plant but can he stop the perpetrators in time?

Reviewers point out that the story was extraordinarily well-researched right down to the tiniest of details. “I wanted to make sure everything I had going on in the story would make sense. So I interviewed local police investigators, a nuclear chemist, others who work at the nuclear plant, and a personal friend with expertise in small plane avionics,” said Betcher. He also spent a significant amount of time doing research online and at the library.

“John loves to learn. He always has,” said Lynn Betcher, John Betcher’s wife. “He’s very into NASA and space right now. I’m sure we’ll learn all about it in his next book.”

“I have always been a big believer in lifetime learning. Knowledge isn’t knowledge unless you pass it along. I think readers could expect that they will learn something new and significant in every book I write,” said Betcher.

In “The Missing Element,” for example, readers learn a lot about how computer microprocessors work. “The Covert Element” provides information about the drug trade and “The Exiled Element” examines the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape of Egypt.

Perhaps more important than the fact that the books are very well researched is the fact that they are all cautionary tales meant to heighten awareness of America’s vulnerabilities in the wake of 9/11.

In addition to the James Becker series of books, Betcher is also the author of “A Higher Court,” a story in which a respected and successful trial attorney is summoned to serve in an improbable trial – a trial to determine whether God exists. He has also penned a non-fiction title, “The Little Black Book of Volleyball Coaching: Insights from the Trenches.” Published in 2009, it is a book inspired by the time he spent coaching his daughters’ high school and club volleyball teams.

All of John L. Betcher’s titles are available on Kindle and as trade paperbacks on Amazon.com where he is considered a best-selling author.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is being offered to you copyright free and cost free. High-resolution photography is also available for free upon request.  If you prefer to do a story of your own,contact Rachel M. Anderson, RMA Publicity, to arrange an interview with John L. Betcher.

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